Panera Bread

Panera Bread Company
Traded as NASDAQ: PNRA
Industry Fast food
Founded 1987 (1987)
Kirkwood, Missouri, US
Founder Ken Rosenthal
Ronald M. Shaich
Louis Kane
Headquarters Sunset Hills, Missouri, U.S.
Number of locations
2000 (March 2016)
Area served
United States, Canada
Key people
Ronald M. Shaich,
Chairman & Co-CEO
Drew Madsen,
Products Fast casual/Bakery-café, including several varieties of bread, such as bagel and baguettes, cold sandwiches, hot panini, salads, soups, coffee and teas
Revenue Increase US$2.7 billion (FY 2011)[2]
Increase US$259 million (FY 2011)[2]
Increase US$160 million (FY 2011)[2]
Total assets Increase US$1.5 billion (FY 2011)[3]
Total equity Increase US$497.3 million (FY 2011)[3]
Number of employees
47,191 including 23,821 who work at least 25 hours per week (December 2015)
Subsidiaries Paradise Bakery & Café

Panera Bread Company is an American chain of bakery-café fast casual restaurants in the United States and Canada. Its headquarters are in Sunset Hills, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and operates as Saint Louis Bread Company in the St. Louis metropolitan area.[4][5] Offerings include soups, salads, pasta, sandwiches, and bakery items.


Panera Bread in Chicago's South Loop

St. Louis Bread was founded by Ken Rosenthal in 1987, when the first location was opened in Kirkwood, Missouri. In 1993, Au Bon Pain Co. purchased the St. Louis Bread Company. In 1997, Au Bon Pain changed the company name to Panera Bread, a made-up name combining the Italian words pane (bread) and era (time)—time of bread. At the same time, the St. Louis Bread Company was renovating its 20 bakery-cafés in the St. Louis area.[6][7]

In May 1999, to expand Panera Bread into a national restaurant, Au Bon Pain Co. sold its other chains, including Au Bon Pain, which is now owned by Compass Group North America.[8] Panera Bread moved into its new headquarters in Richmond Heights, Missouri in 2000.[9] The company operates or franchises 1,800 Panera Bread bakery-cafés in 40 states[6] and 20 facilities that deliver fresh dough to the bakery-cafés every day. Panera Bread's co-CEOs are William Moreton and Ron Shaich.[10]

In the St. Louis area where it was founded, Panera Bread still operates under the name St. Louis Bread Company. The St. Louis metropolitan area has over 101 locations.

In 2005, Panera ranked 37th on BusinessWeek's list of "Hot Growth Companies", earning $38.6 million with a 42.9% increase in profits.[11][12]

In 2007, Panera Bread purchased a majority stake in Paradise Bakery & Café, a Phoenix-based concept with over 70 locations in 10 states (predominantly in the west and southwest). The company purchased the balance of Paradise in June 2009.[6]

In 2008, Panera Bread expanded into Canada, beginning with Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Oakville, and Mississauga in the Toronto area.[13][14]

In a 2008 Health magazine study, Panera Bread was judged North America's healthiest fast casual restaurant.[15]

In 2009 and 2012, the restaurant review service Zagat named Panera one of the most popular restaurants for eating on the go.[16] Panera was also rated No. 1 for Best Healthy Option,[17] Best Salad,[16] and Best Facilities, among restaurants with fewer than 5,000 locations.[17]

In November 2010 Panera Bread relocated its headquarters to Sunset Hills while vacating its Richmond Heights headquarters and Brentwood offices.[18]

In mid-2014, Panera unveiled "Panera 2.0," a series of integrated technologies to enhance the guest experience for all consumers no matter how they choose to use Panera. Panera 2.0 brings together new capabilities for digital ordering, payment, operations and, ultimately, consumption to create an enhanced guest experience for "to go" and "eat in" customers. A notable feature of Panera 2.0 involves interactive tablet kiosks, which the company calls Fast Lane, where customers may place an order and pay without approaching the counter.[19][20] The kiosks consist of iPads.[21] In addition to the kiosks, customers could also place orders and pay via an app on their own smart phone or tablet.[22]

Panera opened its 2000th location in Elyria, Ohio on 23 March 2016.


In June 2014, Panera unveiled its official Food Policy which detailed commitments to clean ingredients, transparency and a positive impact on the food system.[23] This policy outlines the company's values, and sets a course for continuous improvement. Panera also made a commitment to remove artificial additives (colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives) on its 'No No List' from the food in its US bakery-cafes by the end of 2016.[24]

Panera stylizes themselves as a peaceful "Bakery-Cafe" and offers a wide array of pastries and baked goods, such as croissants, bagels, cookies, and brownies. These, along with Panera's artisan breads, are typically baked before dawn by an on-staff baker. Some locations also participate in a program that donates their unsold baked goods to local charities after closing hours.[25] Aside from the bakery section, Panera has a regular menu for dine-in or takeout that is broken down into the following categories:[26]

  • Sandwiches
  • Paninis
  • Pastas
  • Soups & More
  • Flatbreads
  • Salads
  • Side Choices
  • Panera Kids
  • Fruit Smoothies
  • Frozen Drinks
  • Iced Drinks
  • Coffee, Tea, and Lemonade
  • Espresso Drinks
  • Lattes

Panera also has a selection of seasonal offerings, such as the Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken salad offered during the summer season.

Panera announced the addition of more plant-based proteins, such as edamame and organic quinoa, to its menu on November 5, 2015. Being one of the first fast-casual restaurants to discuss plant-based proteins caused Fortune reporter Beth Kowitt to speculate that "other restaurants will likely follow the soup-and-sandwich chain's lead."[27]

Community outreach

The Day-End Dough-Nation program provides unsold bread and baked goods to local area hunger relief agencies and charities. In 2014, Panera Bread bakery-cafes donated a retail value of approximately $100 million worth of unsold bread and baked goods to local organizations in need. Panera also supports events held by non-profit organizations serving those in need by donating a certificate or fresh bakery products.


In 2003, a lawsuit was filed by a former employee who claimed he was fired after allegedly refusing to carry out discriminatory policies set forth by his superiors.[28]

On January 25, 2008, a class action lawsuit was filed against Panera Bread alleging Panera failed to disclose material adverse facts about the company's financial well-being, business relationships, and prospects.[29] Panera settled the lawsuit and agreed to pay $5.75 million to shareholders while admitting no wrongdoing.[30]

In 2009 and 2011, class action lawsuits were filed by former workers alleging that the company violated the California Labor Code, failed to pay overtime, failed to provide meal and rest periods, failed to pay employees upon termination, and violated California's Unfair Competition Law. Panera set aside $5 million for the payment of claims. Panera denied any wrongdoing.[31]

In 2011, a former employee filed a racial discrimination lawsuit alleging that he was eventually fired after repeatedly having a black man work the cash register instead of putting him in a less visible location and having "pretty young girls" be the cashiers, as requested by supervisors.[32] The plaintiff also said he was fired after requesting another month off after returning from three months of medical leave.[32] Panera said it "does not discriminate based on national origin, race or sex," and that the plaintiff "was terminated because he had used all of his medical leave and was unable to return to work."[32] The plaintiff worked in a store owned by franchisee Sam Covelli,[33] who also owns the stores that were involved in the 2003 racial discrimination lawsuit.[34][35] Covelli Enterprises is the single largest franchisee of Panera Bread with nearly 200 stores in Northeast Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Florida.[36]

In 2016, a lawsuit was filed after an employee at a Natick, Massachusetts chain willingly put peanut butter on a sandwich, despite being told that the person receiving it was allergic to peanuts. It was alleged that the restaurant chain acted negligently, and charged those involved with intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress as well as assault and battery,[37] which resulted in the recipient of the sandwich being hospitalized briefly.[38] Less than one month after the incident involved in this case, another restaurant reportedly had a nearly identical incident with another person who had a severe allergy to peanuts.[37]

Social responsibility

In 2009, the company's non-profit foundation created Panera Cares, a non-profit "Pay what you can" restaurant in its home market of St. Louis. CEO Ron Shaich based the idea on an NBC profile of the SAME Cafe in Denver, Colorado.[39][40] It has since expanded the concept to Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; Chicago; and Boston.[41][42][43] Each site serves approximately 3,500 people every week.[44][45][46] The Panera Cares in Chicago shut down at the end of January 2015.[47] The Panera Cares in Portland, Oregon shut down at the end of June 2016, leaving just three locations.[48]

On November 5, 2015, Panera announced that it will use cage-free eggs in all of its stores by 2020.[49] At the time of the announcement, the company said it was 21 percent cage-free in the roughly 70 million eggs it used in 2015.[50]

Internet access

In 2006 and 2007, Panera was the largest provider of free Wi-Fi in the United States.[51][52] Many locations restrict the duration of free Wi-Fi to 30 or 60 minutes during peak hours.[53]


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